Commentary Archive

What to Expect: Rutgers

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Indiana will try to end its first losing streak of the season on Saturday when it welcomes Big Ten newcomer Rutgers to Assembly Hall. The Scarlet Knights are 10-12 overall and 2-7 in conference play.

The game will be broadcast at 3:15 p.m. ET on BTN:

Conference expansion means that Indiana will welcome another new league foe to Assembly Hall on Saturday afternoon. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights, an addition made by the conference to help with exposure in the northeast, haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 1991 and are 0-4 in Big Ten road games thus far.

But that’s not to say this group hasn’t been competitive at times. Earlier in the month, Rutgers knocked off Wisconsin, sans Frank Kaminsky, in Piscataway, and also won its Big Ten-ACC Challenge game at Clemson. However, reality of just how far the program has to go under second year coach Eddie Jordan has set in as Rutgers is 0-5 since the win over the Badgers with the losses coming by an average of 13.8 points.

Coming off tough losses at Ohio State and Purdue, this is a chance for Indiana to finish out the first half of the Big Ten season with its sixth win and continue on as one of the league’s surprises thus far.

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What to Expect: Purdue

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Indiana continues a two-game roadtrip on Wednesday night in West Lafayette at Mackey Arena for a rivalry matchup with Purdue. The Boilermakers are coming in at 12-8 overall, 4-3 in Big Ten play and are coming off a 67-63 win over Iowa on Saturday.

The game will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on BTN with Gus Johnson and Stephen Bardo on the call:

For the first time since Feb. 4, 2010, we may have an Indiana-Purdue game that has some drama. This is a rivalry that, in its past eight meetings, has been decided by an average of 19.4 points. Indiana has won four of those contests by an average of 23.2 points and Purdue has taken the other four by an average of 15.5 points.

These two teams couldn’t be more different in terms of their personnel and the ways in which they attack, which could add intrigue to a series that has been lacking in recent years.

Purdue has two 7-footers in freshman Isaac Haas and junior A.J. Hammons. Indiana has one of the most dynamic perimeter units in the country, led by Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams. The Boilermakers score 58.6 percent of their points in league play on 2s. The Hoosiers get just 44.4 percent of their points on 2s. Purdue scores only 21.7 percent of its points against conference opponents from behind the 3-point line. Indiana gets 37.5 percent of its points from distance.

For Indiana, which has already won two road games in league play, this is a chance to steal another one away from Assembly Hall in what should be an electric environment. And for Purdue, which needs to start collecting quality wins to hold out any hope for an NCAA tournament berth, it’s an important one to keep the dream alive.

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Big Ten Power Rankings: January 26

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The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, and with it comes a new No. 1.

Here’s a look at where each team stands following the fourth week of play in 2015: 

14. Penn State (13-7, 1-6, PPP: 1.03, PPP Allowed: 1.07) (Last week: 14) … Well, it took longer than the Nittany Lions had hoped for but on Saturday they finally picked up their first win of the Big Ten season in a 79-51 drubbing of Rutgers. But outside of that result, not much has gone well for Patrick Chambers’s squad. They rank last in the league in effective field goal percentage defense, and despite keeping things close in East Lansing last Wednesday, they still don’t have enough to put performances into wins. (Next up: Jan. 28 vs. Minnesota; Jan. 31 at Illinois)

13. Northwestern (10-10, 1-6, PPP: 1.01, PPP Allowed: 1.09) (Last week: 13) If there has been a theme that has emerged with the Wildcats this season it has been they have been close over and over — and have failed to put the result together when it has mattered most. They held an 11-point lead at Maryland with 4:21 to go on Sunday and lost. They gave Ohio State a stern test on Thursday and lost. In their past five games, all losses, the Wildcats have been defeated by a combined 17 points. (Next up: Jan. 31 vs. Purdue)

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What to Expect: Ohio State

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Indiana will ride a four-game winning streak into Columbus on Sunday afternoon for a meeting with Ohio State at Value City Arena. The Hoosiers won the first meeting this season with the Buckeyes, 69-66, on Jan. 10 at Assembly Hall.

The game will be broadcast at 1:30 p.m ET on CBS with Carter Blackburn and Clark Kellogg on the call:

Indiana will begin a two-game roadtrip on Sunday in one of the tougher Big Ten venues to win in, Value City Arena. The atmosphere in Columbus sometimes feels more like a professional one because of the arena, but the Buckeyes are always tough at home.

Ohio State is one of five Big Ten opponents that Indiana will play twice this season and these two teams are wrapping up their season series just a third of the way into the league schedule.

The Buckeyes are coming off a narrow 69-67 win at Northwestern in which freshman D’Angelo Russell was dominant. The Louisville native posted an incredible stat line in Evanston – 33 points, six rebounds, six assists and no turnovers – and will surely have his bad performance earlier this month in Bloomington on his mind.

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What to Expect: Maryland

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Indiana returns to Assembly Hall on Thursday night with a 4-1 Big Ten record and a national ranking (No. 23)  following a win on Sunday at Illinois. Things don’t get any easier, however, as the Hoosiers welcome No. 13 Maryland to Assembly Hall. The winner will remain on pace for the conference lead in the loss column with Wisconsin.

The game will be broadcast on ESPNU at 9 p.m. ET with Adam Amin and Seth Greenburg on the call:

Through 18 games, it’s hard to imagine a better start for this Indiana team. At 14-4 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten, the Hoosiers have three wins over top 25 teams and have already won three conference games in which they were underdogs.

But an unforgiving, front loaded league schedule gets no easier from here as Indiana is likely to enter its next three games as an underdog in Vegas. Looking at current KenPom win probabilities, the Hoosiers enter the next three – Maryland (44%), Ohio State (20%) and Purdue (40%) – with less than a 45 percent chance of winning.

So far, the role of underdog has suited Indiana well and it’s one that the Hoosiers will have to continue to embrace as a confident Maryland team that has already won at Michigan State and Purdue comes to Assembly Hall.

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Big Ten Power Rankings: January 19

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The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week as just one team now remains winless in conference play and four are within one game of first place in the league standings.

Here’s a look at where each team stands following the third week of play in 2015: 

14. Penn State (12-6, 0-5, PPP: 1.00, PPP Allowed: 1.13) (Last week: 14)  An already bad week for the Nittany Lions got worse on Sunday after it was revealed they turned down at least 30 people at ticket counters before Saturday’s game against Purdue, even though it was nowhere near sold out. The week started with the announcement of the suspension of John Johnson and continued with two losses to Indiana and the Boilermakers, and the Nittany Lions now find themselves as the lone winless team in Big Ten action. (Next up: Jan. 21 at Michigan State; Jan. 24 vs. Rutgers)

13. Northwestern (10-8, 1-4, PPP: .97, PPP Allowed: 1.07) (Last week: 13)  The Wildcats found themselves in two close games this past week, battling back against Illinois late and with a second-half lead at Michigan. Both times, though, they did not have the late-game playmaking to prevail. And in a league as unforgiving as the Big Ten is, close losses aren’t going to cut it. Perhaps one positive they could take from the four league losses is that they are playing so competitively despite such poor efficiency numbers. (Next up: Jan. 22 vs. Ohio State; Jan. 25 at Maryland)

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Hoosiers emerge victorious after ‘punch after punch’ battle in Champaign

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — State Farm Center was rocking.

Illinois was in the midst of a 21-2 run midway through the second half against Indiana on Sunday, turning a 10-point deficit into a nine-point lead. Hoosiers coach Tom Crean had called a timeout to settle his team.

In what had been a game of runs on Sunday, the Fighting Illini had the edge heading into the final 10:54 of the game. But the Hoosiers battled back.

And by the time the final buzzer sounded, Indiana (14-4, 4-1) had emerged with an 80-74 win — their second in three games on the road this season.

“Both teams just kept fighting back, throwing punch after punch,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “It was a high-level game.”

The first “punch” was thrown in the opening minutes of Sunday afternoon’s game, as Illinois raced to a 14-3 lead. Kendrick Nunn, who scored 24 points for the Illini, opened with three straight 3-pointers. Ahmad Starks added another, his first of five, to put the Illini up by 11.

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